Recently, I received a letter from Steve Cameron, the grandson of Claude Thornhill, the great Big Band leader of the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s. Along with the letter, Steve sent me a set of cuff-links that were worn by Claude at his performances. Below is a photo of these cuff-links and a “magnification” of the musical notes inscribed on the front.
In his letter, Steve writes, “These cuff-links…are parts of Big Band history. I hope they will find a home that will continue to fulfill Claude’s intention to encourage his love of music.” Steve, it is an honor to receive these cuff-links which are a “link” to Claude Thornhill, a great pianist, arranger, composer, and band leader.
-From the Desk of Jerry Drake
The Letter from Steve Cameron:
December 31st, 2011
To A Fellow Big Band Enthusiast:
My name is Steve Cameron. I am the step-grandson of Claude Thornhill. His wife, Ruth Thornhill, was the former Ruth Cameron (maiden name—Marvin) who is my paternal grandmother. Claude was the only grandfather I ever knew.
In 1962, when I was 12, Claude gave me this set of gold-toned, sheet music themed, novelty cuff-links. I had been playing the bugle in St Barbara’s Fife, Drum, and Bugle Corp. of Bushwick, Brooklyn for about a year at that time. I think it was Claude’s way of encouraging my interest in music
The cuff-links were a part of the Claude Thornhill Orchestra’s “getup” when the band was reconstituted following World War II. Of course the getup was changed from time-to-time, and I do not know what years they were worn. This pair was worn by Claude Thornhill himself in performance.
I never saw Claude in performance. But I frequently heard him working on arrangements at his grand piano, in the bay-windowed parlor of his Victorian home in Caldwell, New Jersey. He was a nice guy who always had a smile for his kids and took us on Sunday rides in his Fleetwood Cadillac.
These cuff-links are part of Big Band history. I hope they will find a home that will continue to fulfill Claude’s intention to encourage his love of music.
Steven L. Cameron